cover image Inspector of the Dead

Inspector of the Dead

David Morrell. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-32393-2

Fans of sophisticated historicals will embrace Macavity Award–winner Morrell’s second suspense novel featuring Thomas De Quincey and his grown daughter, Emily (after 2013’s Murder as a Fine Art). In 1855, just as the British are dealing with the collapse of the government following revelations of mismanagement during the Crimean War, London suffers a reign of terror. After murdering the servants of a Mayfair lord’s household, a killer manages the seemingly impossible crime of slitting the throat of Lady Cosgrove in her private pew in St. James’s Church. A note near her corpse contains only the words Young England, a reference to a group of conspirators assassin Edward Oxford claimed were behind his attempt on Queen Victoria’s life in 1840. The murders continue, in settings apparently selected to show Londoners that they aren’t safe anywhere, and with a savagery that suggests a personal motive for the bloody spree. Impressively, Morrell even manages to introduce some humor into his grim tale, as shown by a scene in which De Quincy shocks Lord Palmerston by admitting he once told George III a lie. Convincing period detail complements the fascinating story line. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Mar.)